Last Sunday, I attended a breastfeeding seminar called, “Tamang Hakab: Gabay sa Pagpapasuso.” It was organized by Breastfeeding Pinays, a group that seeks to “provide support and information to families who are interested in breastfeeding.” It basically introduced us to the importance of breastfeeding, proper breastfeeding and how to battle and win breastfeeding challenges i.e. working mothers, etc. Most of the participants are not first time mothers but those who, in my opinion, need support in their future breastfeeding endeavors.
I didn’t have much questions during the seminar knowing that in my circle of friends I have the support I needed. It was discussed that to overcome difficulties we need to choose the right Circle of Support in our journey and for that I am very thankful. However, as a single-mother-to-be, I don’t have an immediate partner to depend on, us being on a long distance relationship. My baby will be mostly at home after I start working again. This means she will be mostly with her lola/grandmother or nanny.
Right after the seminar, I went home and shared my learnings to my very skeptical mother (I used the term skeptical because even before I attended it, she already told me her experiences with us 3. She only breastfed until her maternity leave and resorted to formula there after. No judgement on my end, she needed to do what she thought was best at that time). Excited as I was, I told her about cupfeeding, milk storing and other post-maternity leave information I got. In the course of my sharing, she suddenly blurted out that she should have attended with me so she can tell the counselors (which she automatically assumed are new mothers) that what they called as myths are real life experiences of other mothers. She enumerated several like inverted nipple, mothers to tired after work, baby getting used to mother’s breasts, etc. I believe that half of what she said was true but I rebutted that more the reason to discredit those myths. And why the need to tell the counselors off?!? We kept arguing until I can’t take it anymore. I told her I just need her support and no need for all those negativity, at dahil hindi magpapatalo ang nanay ko, siya pa rin ang may huling say.
The crybaby that I am. I resorted to walking out and just texted her to say what I can’t seem to tell her without tears:
“Mahirap bang supportahan yung mga life choices ko tulad ng breastfeeding? Ok naman maging skeptical na di nagiging negative or unsupportive. Yung kailangan lang eh willing to try. Pero di pa nangyayari kokontra ka na agad. Di ka man lang nakikinig. Sana mas maging supportive ka naman sana. Nirerespeto ko life choices mo noon pero iba na ang panahon ngayon. May mas space na ang mga kababaihan na i-experience ang motherhood kahit nagtatrabaho. Sana mas maging bukas isip mo Ma. Di ko naman kailangan na turuan mo ako along the way. Pang uunawa at suporta lang.”
After some thought, what frustrated me more with our conversation is not much about what she said (because the struggle is real, a lot women experiences breastfeeding challenges brought by different circumstances) but how she said them. I felt defeated in the thought that if I cannot convince my mother to support me in this, how else can I make other people change their mindset about the whole concept?
I still don’t know what to do. My emotions got the best in me in that situation. I know I should have let the idea rests in her first. BUT I WAS TOO EXCITED! I have wanted her full support there and then. It’s the bunso in me that wanted her assurance immediately. It’s also my circumstance of being single-mom-to-be that I want to make sure that I have people to depend on when the going gets rough. Who else to turn to than your family?
For now, I am resorting to peer counseling and online readings. Hopefully, before my due date, I can come up with ways to convince my mother that we can do it (#umaasa #wishfulthinking). She is, after all, the second person in my Circle of Support. The first being me and Bakotoy.
Anyway, for those future working mothers in the Philippines, here are some links that can help you make your home, hospital and workplace more conducive to supporting Unang Yakap and breastfeeding: